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Construction Labour Hire Operators in the Spotlight

May 26, 2017 0 Comments

The construction labour hire operators in Victoria and Queensland are being investigated as the government attempts to shut down devious operators who exploit labour hire workers.

labour hire worker

The hunt is on for Labour Hire Operators who are not treating workers fairly.

A Filipino worker Edwin de Castro, landed a job on a construction site in Narrabri, New South Wales through a labour hire firm. He was excited, however, his excitement was short lived when he was forced to endure 60 – 70 working hours per week, risking his life in dangerous conditions, and was grossly underpaid. He was made to sleep in a tiny bedroom and had a salary deduction of $250/week for this below-par accommodation. Then one night, he and his co-workers were all dismissed from work without prior notice and were threatened to be accused of trespassing if they did not vacate the premises immediately.

In another case, a construction contractor employed through a labour hire firm in Melbourne was dismissed by the agency after asking for a 7-day sick leave to undergo surgery.

Underpayment, low wages, insecurity and bullying are not only prevalent in the construction business though. These circumstances exist in a wide number of industries that employ workers through labour hire agencies.

Anastacia Palaszczuk, state premier of Queensland, said a legislation to establish a mandatory licensing scheme for all labour hire operators will be implemented in May. This scheme will require operators to:

  • Pass a fit-and-proper person test,
  • Comply with strict workplace laws, including workers’ compensation, wages and superannuation,
  • Pay a license fee,
  • Report regularly on their operations
  • Divulge the number of employees they have engaged, along with the number of employees engaged through work visa arrangements.

The government says it will further engage in consultations to determine whether or not the licensing scheme should be limited to certain sectors or should be generally applied across all sectors.

In a recent announcement made by Palaszczuk, she said the licensing scheme will help put an end to worker exploitation. She also showed frustration at the failure of the Federal Government to implement the scheme on a national basis.

“The only way to put an end to this kind of appalling exploitation is through the introduction of a proper labour hire regulation scheme.” She said. “You need a licence to operate a real estate agency or to be a motor car dealer, so why shouldn’t you need a licence to run a labour hire firm?” she added.

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